Principle of Leadership
Leaders in the Church and family must understand their duties in order to help those they serve receive the blessings of the gospel.
Leaders are more effective when they learn the duties that go with their position.
Concept 1. Leaders Are More Effective When They Learn the Duties That Go With Their Position.
In Doctrine and Covenants 107:99–100, the Lord counsels all to learn their duty. These verses are directed to those serving in priesthood offices, but the spirit of this counsel applies to all leaders. Elder Richard L. Evans, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught: “Our families, the Church, the community, the nation, the kingdom of God are better served by the best-prepared people. Preparation and knowledge, with faithfulness, are infinitely better than just faithfulness alone. And those who drop out for trivial reasons, those who cease to learn, those who don’t continue to try to increase their competence are, I believe, failing to do their full duty” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 55).
Each leadership role has unique duties. We can learn these duties from handbooks, our leaders, others who have served in the office, training meetings, personal observation, seeking the Spirit, studying the scriptures, and praying.
Calls to leadership positions give people the opportunity to learn and practice a variety of abilities, such as “evaluating alternatives, scheduling, delegating, and motivating others. However, all Church leaders are encouraged to focus principally on people, to feed the sheep in the Lord’s flock, to know and love the members, to listen, love, and help with personal needs. [President David O. McKay said,] ‘It is the leader’s duty … to teach the member to love—not the leader or teacher, but the truth of the gospel’ [in Conference Report, Oct. 1968, 143–44]. To do this, leaders are frequently counseled to seek the spiritual gifts of discernment and wisdom (cf. Luke 12:12; D&C 84:85)” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. , 2:818).
Leaders must learn their duties and what others expect of them. For example, a class president may be responsible for welcoming students to class, meeting with the teacher and other class officers to plan activities, training other class officers, celebrating class members’ birthdays, reaching out to class members who have challenges or are not attending, and so on.
As family leaders, parents are responsible for the welfare of themselves and their children. Their duties include the guidelines listed in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
Auxiliary and priesthood leaders are responsible for helping those they serve receive the blessings of the gospel. Their duties may include conducting meetings, supervising home or visiting teaching, reporting to other leaders, counseling, interviewing, preparing budgets, calling people to serve, directing service projects, and in general helping their organizations function well. The primary responsibility of priesthood and auxiliary leaders is to support and encourage parents in their duty to teach the gospel in the home.
Church and family leaders usually need to develop abilities such as:
Focusing on people rather than tasks
Communicating with those they serve and with other leaders
Knowing and loving people
Helping people with their personal needs
Teaching them to love gospel truths
Using spiritual gifts such as discernment and wisdom
Working within doctrinal and policy constraints
Ask two or three students what type of work their parents do to support their families. Or if your students are the heads of families, you could ask what type of work they do. Discuss what skills, knowledge, or attitudes these jobs require.
Point out that every member should prepare to become a leader in the Church or in the family. Each leadership role has its unique duties.
Ask why it is important for leaders to learn their duties. Isn’t it enough for leaders just to be good people and to try to help others?
Name with students some of the duties of various Church and family leadership positions. Discuss how we learn these duties. Encourage students to strive to learn all their duties whenever they are placed in a leadership position.
Make a list of a Relief Society president’s duties. Make another list of an elders quorum president’s duties. Point out that we could make similar lists for every leadership position in the Church and family. Emphasize how important it is for leaders to learn their duties so they can be profitable servants.
Review some of the ways we learn our duties as leaders.
Ask what might keep us from learning our duties as leaders, and discuss how we might overcome these obstacles.